San Francisco Plan to Adjust Parking Prices Based on Demand

Let’s say you have to run an errand, a small-ish one. You’re stopping by your doctor’s office to pick up a prescription; you gotta return a regretted online purchase at the post office. How do you get there? A bunch of tiny factors contribute to your decision, but if you have a car one of the biggest is probably: Can I park?

Thousands, maybe millions of people in your city are making small choices like yours every day. If parking is abundant and free, more people might drive, creating traffic in the process. If it’s scarce or expensive, they might choose alternatives—walking, cycling, hopping on the bus.

Thus, the way your city deals with parking indelibly shapes its character—how people live inside it every day. That’s why you should pay attention to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s new parking meter proposal. If the agency has its way, SF will become the first major American city to adjust the prices at all of its parking meters based on demand.

“We should be charging the right price for parking given the block and given the time of day,” says Hank Willson, who manages parking policy for the SFMTA. The proposal, which goes before the city council on Tuesday, would expand a program that’s already in place at 7,000 of the city’s 28,000 parking meters. It breaks every day into three time bands, and the agency would adjust the prices on each block and band based on usage data collected by the city’s wirelessly connected parking meters. If you’re parking on a popular bar- and restaurant-packed block on a Friday night, you can expect to pay more than you would to hang in the same spot on a sleepy Monday morning.

Do not worry about airline-style price gouging at peak times, says SFMTA. The agency will give plenty of warning of pricing changes, and prices will only fluctuate by 25 cents each month, tops. There will also be a meter ceiling and floor: You won’t pay less than 50 cents an hour, or more than $8.

The goal is to ensure that parking spaces are used and that anyone willing to pay a meter can find an empty spot. “If you price it too high, then people will stay away: They won’t come to a neighborhood and they won’t spend money,” says Willson. “If you price it too low, that leads to more circling for parking, more congestion, and more greenhouse gases.”

Cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle have experimented with dynamic parking pricing before, and the research shows that these schemes tend to work—to a degree. San Francisco’s own experimentation with the idea goes back to 2008. That year, the federal government wrote the city a $20 million check to launch a five-year pilot project focusing on a third of the city’s meters along some of its more highly trafficked corridors.

The experiment worked just fine. According to observations by SFTMA, circling for parking sank by about 40 percent in the affected areas. Double parking dropped, and buses had a moderately easier time piloting through affected blocks than before. Plus, the agency reached its parking spot occupancy goals about a third of the time, meaning San Franciscans were using the meters more frequently overall. (Though the agency says the pilot was not about increasing revenue, it made an extra $2 million in net parking money a year.) The proposal before city council would expand this project to the rest of the city.

Still, don’t expect too much from a parking meter pricing scheme like this one. Parking may shape a city, but this project only affects the city’s metered parking—about 10 percent of the total spaces—and a non-insignificant percentage of drivers don’t pay for parking ever, either because they’re scofflaws or because they have special permits or licenses that allow them to park without ever digging change out of the glove compartment. (San Francisco’s meters also take credit cards.) The plan might also be more effective at freeing up spaces if the city nixed the price floors and ceilings and allowed the market to do its work—but residents would almost certainly quash that.

And parking meters alone can’t solve the Bay Area’s horrific traffic problems. (The road analytics company Inrix finds San Franciscans spend about 83 hours in traffic each year.) “Road congestion is caused by the road not being priced accurately, not parking,” says Michael Manville, an urban planner who studies transportation and land use at UCLA. “In a dense urban area, you could have parking pricing reduce cruising for spots and therefore take some people off the road and get them into the parking space. But the road in San Francisco is still in high demand, so there’s no reason to think the road won’t fill in behind them.” Basically: There are too many cars in the city for isolated parking programs to make a really major dent.

If the plan is approved, SFTMA says they could be ready to roll out demand-responsive metering to the whole city as soon as mid-January. “We’ve got the technology in place, we’ve got the know-how, and we’ve already seen the results,” Willson says. If you’ve needed a little push to get on your friendly neighborhood bus, this might be it.


Lots More Parking

General Motors’ New Lidar, the Postal Service’s Self-Driving Van, and More Car News From This Week

The momentum builds. This week we saw a bunch of schemes to get self-driving cars on the road. The state of California released the latest draft of its regulations to make it easier for driverless cars to be on public roads by 2018. Those are vehicles with no one at the controls—not even a “safety human.” The University of Michigan is building a semiautonomous delivery vehicle for the US Postal Service. And a VC firm really wants to make a lane of I-5 in Seattle robots-only. Perfect driverless tech, with its promise of cutting crashes, can’t come soon enough. New data from the Department of Transportation shows that 37,461 people died on American roads last year.

Let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

  • Alex takes us through General Motors’ latest shot at vertical integration: the carmaker acquired Strobe, a California lidar maker. Lidar is one of those sensors that could help driverless cars navigate, by firing out millions of laser pulses and measuring how they bounce off the surroundings. But today’s lidar is expensive, and the industry’s main supplier, Velodyne, can’t keep up with demand. GM believes it can make it more smoothly in house.
  • Jack talks to the venture capitalists who want to slowly eliminate the humans from a stretch of highway between Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle, Washington. No, this is not a Walking Dead sitch—they posit that separating driverless cars from people-piloted ones will keep passengers safer.
  • I reported on the US Postal Service’s semiautonomous vehicle prototype. A human mail carrier will still have to hang at the wheel, sorting mail and delivering to mailboxes through the window. USPS wants to have these vehicles on 28,000 rural mail routes by 2025.
  • If you’re more into totally driverless vehicles, head to the Golden State, where the Department of Motor Vehicles wants to make it easier for developers to launch human-free cars on public roads next year.
  • And if all this autonomy stuff is confusing you, know that you’re not alone. I reported on a new MIT study that shows customers are mystified by the names of automated features currently on the market. Even the Secretary of Transportation is having a hard time parsing what is and isn’t a self-driving car.

Autonomous Tech Convert of the Week

Companies like Intel and Waymo also know that autonomous vehicles are perplexing, and maybe kind of scary, and the industry hasn’t done a great job explaining how they work. Solution: ads! And what better person to explicate than the King himself? In a new Intel ad, a nervous LeBron James takes a ride in an AV—and, spoiler alert, then insists on keeping it.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet.

  • If lugging human passengers around isn’t your bag, the San Francisco startup Mapper will still pay you to drive—with a nifty, femur-shaped device affixed to your windshield. The plastic attachment records the street data needed to create maps for self-driving cars.
  • Big-time chipmaker Nvidia rolled out a multichip platform built just for driverless cars. It can pull off 320 trillion operations per second, 13 times more than other products in its automotive line.
  • Uber’s reportedly under five federal criminal investigations—two more than previously reported. The troubled ridehail giant faces questions about price transparency, criminal bribery, trade theft, and dodging local regulations.
  • Uber also reportedly turned down a settlement offer in its ongoing self-driving car lawsuit with Waymo. The Google spinoff wanted $1 billion, a public apology, and an independent monitor to ensure the ridehail company wouldn’t use its intellectual property.
  • Paris joins the electric party and pledges to ban gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2030. Here’s how it could pull it off.

In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canon

With all the excitement around self-driving cars, it’s worth reminding yourself how they actually work, and how they perceive the world they move through. Because someday soon, one could be driving you.

To End Distracted Driving, MIT Figures Out How People actually Drive

Given the sheer numbers of things that carry on in vehicles today, it is, perhaps, a feeling stressing that scientists nevertheless aren’t quite yes how the mental faculties responds to distraction. it is not their fault: advanced camera rigs and eye look evaluating tools have just shown up within the last few ten years approximately.

The amusements, too, are brand new. There are the time-honored diversions—yelling at your kid into the straight back, adjusting radio stations, scarfing down a sandwich. And then there is the veritable entertainment park of novel choices: following the in-car navigation system, texting mom, ‘gramming your drive.

Almost 40,000 people died on American roads this past year, and experts think the harm done by distraction has spiked.

Only if the divertissements as part of your car caused you, should they knew precisely once you needed to keep two eyes regarding road—and don’t beckon one to do the reverse. Getting them to accomplish this may be the objective of scientists aided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Age Lab and Touchstone Evaluations, a individual facets engineering firm located in Michigan. Funded by major car and technology players like Denso, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Bing, and Panasonic, the researchers are working to accurately to model just how people function inside automobiles, and shape their behavior to help keep them safe.

  • Eyes Up Right Here

  • Rhett Allain

    Physics Proves Nobody Can Properly Text and Drive

  • Aarian Marshall

    Turns Out, a Horrifying Amount Of People Utilize Their Phones While Driving

  • Aarian Marshall

    The master plan to ‘Textalyze’ Distracted Drivers’ Phones Is Dumb and Doomed

“How can I keep consitently the driver’s awareness of the specific situation high while they look for one thing to be controlled by on their brand new infotainment system?” states Linda Angell, a former General Motors engineer whom heads up Touchstone. “How could I shape this task in a manner that their eyes are on the street, and give them regular sufficient breaks, and cue them to look at the street every now and then?”

The other day, the group circulated a paper that seeks to fully capture individual “attentional awareness” in mathematical terms—with an algorithm. 1 day soon, they wish automobile manufacturers and designers uses this knowledge to construct products which will assist motorists in, you understand, maybe not killing on their own among others.

Attentional Awareness FTW

Lawmakers and parents like to mention “driver distraction,” but it is not just a simple concept. There’s no on or off switch for motorist focus. Attention, like many things, is really a spectrum, also it combines many elements.

“Most of research previously has been either visual, audible, or haptic—they haven’t been combined all into one,” says Douglas Patton, Denso’s head of engineering.

In 2012, government-sponsored scientists rigged up 2,600 regular motorists’ automobiles with digital cameras and sensors in six states, then left them alone for more than a year. The effect actually big, objective, and detailed database of real driving behavior, the kind of information that’s very useful if you would like determine precisely what causes crashes.

The MIT scientists and their colleagues took that database and added another twist. While many researchers looking to split why an accident took place might consider the five or six moments ahead of the occasion, these researchers backed all of it just how up, to around 20 moments ahead of time.

“In the event that phone goes brrrrring, you are feeling socially or emotionally compelled to respond to it.” — Bryan Reimer, MIT

“Upstream, further just before a conference, we start to see failures in attention allocation that are indicative of less understanding in operating environment in the crash occasions,” says Bryan Reimer, an engineer who studies driver behavior at MIT. Put another way: the issues that cause crashes start well before the crunch.

Everything precipitates to eye glances. Certain, the greater time you may spend searching off the road, the likelier your potential for crashing. Nevertheless the time spent searching traveling things, too. If your glances at, state, the texts in your lap are much longer compared to the darting ones you make back once again to the highway in front of you, you gradually lose awareness of what your location is in area.

Frequently, motorists are pretty good at handling that attentional and situational awareness, judging when it is appropriate to check down at radio, for example. But smart phones and in-car infotainment systems provide a new issue: The motorist isn’t actually deciding when you should build relationships the merchandise. “If the telephone goes brrrrring, you feel socially or emotionally compelled to react to it,” states Reimer. The problem is your cueing arrives without respect to whenis a good time.

Go to

The algorithm that scientists tested in this paper—one called AttenD, which dates back to 2009—turns out become decent at predicting when crashes happen based on just what drivers had been doing in 20 roughly previous seconds. Meaning that maybe, 1 day quickly, scientists could use this type of math to build and test products that are safe to make use of into the vehicle.

New, more human-friendly technology could, state, declutter the car’s tool panel in circumstances that require more attentional awareness. Getting ready to create a left turn at a big intersection? Perhaps it’ll wait buzzing about that new text. Driving traveling in hefty rain? Perhaps it won’t allow you to navigate through a menu to queue up a podcast.

This research could also assist regulatory agencies come up with poorly required standards for things such as semi-autonomous vehicles, or spur automakers produce them independently. “We’re hoping to come up with some kind of numeric grading system,” says Patton, the Denso engineering chief. A five-star anti-distraction item could 1 day adjust to the kind of motorist behind the wheel (a teenager, an adult person, somebody by having a heart condition).

Work similar to this is not quite ready the big style. “why is me personally nervous about models such as this is individuals begin to use figures and I don’t think we all know exactly what figures mean,” claims Charlie Klauer, an engineer who studies distracted driving in novice drivers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. She emphasizes that breaking human attention cannot all be on designers—drivers should be educated regarding risks of fiddling with material driving, and cops should enforce current anti-texting guidelines. So, start.

But this research just becomes more important as automobiles with automatic features hit the street in greater numbers. Automakers like Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and General Motors already or will quickly provide cars with partially-automated features that handle highway driving.

Even in these vehicles, individual drivers remain vital. They need to know if they should retake control through the robots. And that means focusing.

Airbus’ High-Speed Racer Helicopter Cruises at a Wild 250 MPH

Emergency workers and the obscenely rich love helicopters, as well as for good reason. Unlike airplanes, whirlybirds can take off and land nearly anywhere, making them just the thing for tight spots and urban areas. The downside, though, is speed. Choppers are sluggish.

While Gulfstream’s G650 personal jet streaks along at north of 600 miles per hour, mainstream choppers like police or the local traffic reporter might make use of maxes out around 160 miles per hour. Quick, however that quick whenever speaking about trip. Airbus believes it discovered a way of closing the speed space without sacrificing a helicopter’s inherent advantages: include wings and props to create an aircraft that will remove and secure vertically, hover, and cruise at a heady 250 miles per hour. Airbus calls it the Racer, for fast and economical Rotorcraft.

You simply understand it created the title first, then discovered the language making it work.

Airbus

The idea is to find a way across the physics that limit the rate of the mainstream helo. With any helicopter, the most notable rotor provides lift since the blades cut the atmosphere. If the helicopter is traveling ahead, air techniques across the the blade spinning toward travel faster than it will across the retreating blade on other side, causing something aerodynamicists contact dissymmetry of lift. The faster you go, the greater amount of serious the end result while the less stable the helicopter. Aerodynamicists understand how to make up for most of this, but the challenge mounts because the blades approach the speed of noise. An advancing blade striking the noise barrier creates aerodynamic instabilities designers cannot make up for.

Airbus

Therefore Airbus engineers included two quick wings extending from each part for the fuselage. The wings meet at a spot and support a rear-facing prop driven by the engines switching the main rotor. In ahead trip, the wings offer extra lift, and the ones tiny props offer extra propulsion. All of this allows the helo to reach greater speeds without pushing the primary rotor into an aerodynamic red zone.

Jean-Brice Dumont, the company’s mind of helicopter engineering claims the design makes the Racer faster, more gas efficient, and cheaper to operate. Obviously, this being fully a prototype, Airbus don’t point out any particulars on gas economy of operating costs. But the engineering is solid.

“The concept of mixture helicopters, using some pusher fans and little wings along with the primary rotor, is not new,” claims Mo Sammy, director regarding the Aerospace Research Center at Ohio State University. “exactly what could possibly be brand new may be the claim of efficiency and affordability, if materialized.”

Previous experimental efforts have shown promising results. The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) X3 hit 293 mph in 2013 employing a similar setup. Airbus rival Sikorsky flew the X2 mixture rotorcraft into the mid 2000s. You’ll see a few of the technology from that aircraft in Lockheed S-97 armed forces helicopter.

Although every futuristic aircraft seems to consist of electric engines these days, Airbus is sticking to a proven powertrain right here. Two Rolls-Royce turboprop machines power the key rotor and auxiliary propellers. However, Airbus is exploring a “stop-start” system that’ll power down one engine during low rates or light loads. Consider it as “eco” mode for the sky.

Airbus sees market for the machine that could rival personal planes for city to town transportation among jet setters in a rush. Crisis services could benefit, too—a higher top rate could mean a shorter journey to hospital. Airbus hopes to help make the first journey in 2020. Commercial solution could follow five to ten years later. Just enough time and energy to begin saving up.

Bask in the Glory of the Horsepower-Happy New York Auto Show

In the wide world of the auto industry, auto shows don’t just display the latest offerings—they provide a window into the peculiarities of a given place. Geneva is the supercar show, for the super wealthy. Detroit is a showcase for homegrown, American metal (and lots of trucks); Paris is a collection of European quirk. Los Angeles wants to be the new home of mobility, a showcase for the world beyond just cars. And the New York International Auto Show, open to the public this weekend through April 23, focuses on the fleeting fashions, a reflection of the times.

This year, size and power are en vogue. Dodge rolled out the Challenger SRT Demon, a car so powerful it does wheelies. Ford trotted out its latest cop car, Mercedes bulked up with a new AMG offering, Lincoln’s refreshed Navigator dominates anyone standing in its shadow.

If you’re headed to the show or watching from afar, here’s the best metal to drool over.

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